Pushback on proposed law that would limit officers use of force

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A law proposed in Sacramento would limit when officers could use force. California Assembly Bill 931 would change the current "reasonable force" rule to "necessary force."

"This basically says that lethal force should only be used when it is absolutely necessary to prevent imminent danger to the officer or to some citizen that's there," said Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D- San Diego). "If you're not in imminent danger then you should look at other things that could be used."

California Assembly Bill 931 was introduced after the shooting death of Stephon Clark last month in Sacramento. Clark was holding a cellphone in his grandmother's backyard when he was shot 8 times by officers.

Across the state, law enforcement leaders have taken issue with the proposed law.

"A legislator isn't on the streets every day," said Clovis Police Chief Matt Basgall, who opposes the bill and calls it unreasonable.

He says law enforcement is always looking for ways to improve but believes the bill would negatively impact officers.

"We don't want this to affect an officer's decision where they get hurt, injured, killed. Or a citizen gets injured or killed because we're concerned about that other checklist type thing that's being proposed."

The Clovis Police Department has joined several other agencies around the state in opposing the bill on social media. They worry officer's split-second decisions would be second-guessed at every opportunity.

Lizzie Buchen, legislative advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union, which is among the groups behind the measure, says the scrutiny of officers is necessary. "It's clear that the current law protects the police, not the people. It allows officers to kill community members when they had other options."

Basgall says that is not the case.

"Lethal force or deadly force is the very last resort in all circumstances. That's really what's trained. It's for a life and death situation."
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